Joy of Terroir 2011

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April - Monte Bello, Santa Cruz, California

Monte Bello is the flagship vineyard of Ridge estate, managed by 2000 Decanter Man of the Year Paul Draper. Around 33ha of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7ha to Chardonnay. Both are cult wines. The Santa Cruz Mountains is California’s coolest Cabernet Sauvignon producing area and the 40-hectare vineyard sits at 400-850m above sea level, 24km from the Pacific. The vines are low-yielding, at just 27hl/ha. These factors, and Draper’s non-interventionist practices (organic certification is due this year), help explain the wines’ exalted reputation. Vines were first planted here in 1885, but the vineyard was neglected until 1959 when four Stamford Research Institute engineers bought it and founded Ridge in 1962. Draper became winemaker in 1969.